Monday, January 15, 2007

Entering a contest

The following is a true story. It happened to me. I am hoping to win a contest for vacation nightmares...let me know if you agree that this should surely win! Again..I swear every word is true. Our cruise through Puerto Rico When our cruise ship docked in San Juan mid afternoon, they told us we had the whole afternoon, actually till we departed again at midnight, to do some sightseeing. One of the things that we had hoped to see was the El Moro (the famous fort) that afternoon before returning to the ship for dinner and departing to our next port. Being on a budget, we decided to take a local bus from the dock area to the fort instead of a costlier taxi. When I asked the driver if he went to El Moro, he said yes and we climbed aboard. We were pretty tickled because it was on 50 cents each and not only would we see the fort, we would get to see a little of San Juan also. We traveled along and picked up more people along the route, obviously going back to their homes at the end of their workday. It seemed as though we were leaving the city limits but we were still tickled that we were getting a $1.00 tour of San Juan even if we didn't make it to the fort before it closed. I did approach the bus driver twice to be sure he was in fact going to El Moro and he said yes. Well---about 25 minutes into what was to be a 5 minute bus ride and the workers were starting to be dropped off at their mountain side homes and I was starting to get nervous. We thought that at the very least the bus would make the turn around to finish its pickup/dropoff loop and we would end up back at the ship, hopefully not missing dinner. We were getting deeper and deeper into the mountainous forest on a very narrow, extremely winding road, with all that was visible were shacks built into the side of the mountain, a few bars and many many goats tied up to tree stumps. By this time we had been on the bus for over 45 minutes and we were obviously not headed back to San Juan. When we approached the driver again, we were the last people on the bus that had been standing room only 45 minutes before. We pulled into a deserted town and the bus stopped. The driver motioned for us to get off the bus. We once again asked him when he was turning around to go back to San Juan..this time he just laughed at us and told us we owed him an extra $2.00 each for the scenic route then he removed us from the bus telling us that he would come back the next day. Apparently the drivers take their busses home each night. He knew all along where he was going to kick us off the bus. Here we were stranded in this abandoned "town" that consisted of about 10 boarded up storefronts. As the bus pulled away I started to cry. Never had I been in such a terrifying situation. We were many many miles from San Juan, high up on a mountain with nobody in site. My husband is a police officer here in Ohio and his first thought was to find a police station. We started walking not knowing which way to go. The only way I can describe this town (Comarillo) was that it was eerily like the ghost towns in old western movies, quiet, boarded up storefronts and no people anywhere. We stumbled upon two men that leered and grinned at us and I was sure they were going to attack and/or kill us. When my husband asked for the "policía" they laughed and said no, never offering an ounce of concern in our direction. We very quickly got to the edge of the town, since it was only 1 block long, it didn't take much time. At the end of the road was a very small building that had a very old and small fire truck inside. We went inside and saw someone in the back with their feet propped up in a desk. When we approached the man, and asked him how we could get back to San Juan, he had no idea what we were saying as he spoke no English. That is when I started to come unglued. Now I wasn't worried about dinner any more, I was worried about our survival. After using as much sign language and hand gestures as we could I was losing hope of him ever understanding. Suddenly there was a voice in English saying "may I help you?" Finally someone we could talk to that would understand. We explained that we had been kidnapped/hijacked and he told us we were very very lucky that he was there. He goes to that town one day a month to visit his Mother and that was the day. He was getting into his car to go home when he heard English being spoken and nobody that far up the mountain spoke English so he came to see who we were. He asked if we could trust him to help usÂ…at that point we had no choice. Either he was a guardian angel or he was working with the bus driver and we were going to be led astray once more. We had to trust him. We got into his car and on our way back down the hill he told us that he is a teacher in a town about ½ way between San Juan and Comarillo. He would take us to a bus that for a fee, would take us to a ferry that would take us to the ship docks. When we arrived at that "bus" (actually a van) he explained in Spanish to the two drivers what happened and then turned to us, telling us these two drivers would take us the rest of the way to the ferry. Once again, we had to trust that we were going to be okay. After sitting still inside the van for 15 minutes we asked why we weren't on our way and the drivers said we had to wait for the van to fill.Well there was nobody around for miles and miles so we knew it wasn't going to happen. We offered to pay enough to cover filling the quota of the van, a price was agreed upon and off we went. By the time we got to the ferry, I could see the cruise ship far in the distance but it was still a wonderful site. Worst case scenario, we could swim! We did finally get back to the ship before it departed at midnight but not before a very drunken man tried to pick up my husband on the ferry. If I hadn't been shaking from fear it would have been extremely funny. I have a friend that grew up in Puerto Rico and have told her this story and she says that we were very very lucky indeed as that is a very dangerous area we were lucky to get out without incident. I have tried to find that guardian angel teacher and have never been able to locate him. In our state of fear, it never crossed our minds to ask for his name and address to give him a proper thank you for getting us out of the most frightening time in our newly married life.

5 comments:

My Reality said...

I think it could certainly win for sure. How scary!

Stephanie said...

That is...a nightmare! I am so glad you returned to your ship safe. You definitely had an angle watching over you that day.

One Mother's Journey said...

That is really scary. I have a fear of non-English speaking countries - I just can't imagine anything scarrier than not being able to communicate with someone.
Someone was definetly looking out for you!

Also, from what I've heard about the police in that part of the world... you may have been luckier NOT finding them.

The Independent Urologist said...

Great story. You probably would have forgotten the whole cruise otherwise. As long as it ended up ok, a good story. Congrats on the new marriage.

Anonymous said...

something you can laugh about later, if you made it home with both your kidneys. You didn't fall asleep at any time did you?
...on my visits to PR everyone has been extremely friendly and nice, except for that jerk in the truck in Ponce who yelled (Gringa! ) ...
I hope that you reported the Man to the Policia in San Juan or at least to the Cruise Director so they can warn others.